Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog
 Printer Friendly


The decision by Pres. Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel has been received in dismay and anger by portions of the Arab and Moslem world. This is pretty much what could have been expected since portions of that society have never given up on the idea of the destruction of the Jewish state.

However, what is more troubling and disappointing, to me at least, is the reaction of the left wing, peace-loving, progressive minded, noise making, arrogant section of the Israeli media and public. To think that the leading Israeli newspaper and a Zionist political party would object to what Pres. Trump has done is really mind-boggling.
The founders of the state, many of who were as left wing as they come, defended Jerusalem as part of the Jewish state both physically and politically. No effort was spared to make Jerusalem a Jewish city and to make it the capital of the Jewish state. The government offices were moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Knesset building was erected in Jerusalem and the governmental quarter housing the ministries of the government has steadily expanded in Jerusalem.
The world may not have been willing to grant us Jerusalem but the Jewish people knew in heart and mind that Jerusalem was ours and that it was the capital and the heart of any Jewish state. For a section of the Jewish society to turn its back now on Jerusalem indicates how far removed these Jews are from their heritage and history.
The holiday of Chanukah, which marks the triumph of the ancient Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks, the restoration of Jerusalem as the holy capital of Israel and the purification of the Temple, also records for us that a different and just as significant battle was fought at that time. That battle was against the Hellenistic Jews, who denied Jerusalem, profaned the Temple and attempted to assimilate Judaism completely into Greek paganism and culture.
This struggle continued long after the military victory against the Syrian Greeks. It raged throughout Second Temple times and continued in various forms throughout Jewish history till our day. Within Jewish society there is always an anti-Jewish ideal on the agenda. It is always cloaked in piety and righteousness and represents itself as being progressive and tolerant when in reality it is neither.
Many times in Jewish history this insidious element has gained ascendancy in power and influence. But its accomplishments and triumphs never lasted. They were proven wrong by outside events as well as by the internal wisdom of Jewish society, which eventually rejected these ideas and plans.
The small lights of Chanukah have certainly outlasted the blazing temporary glory of Greek culture and Hellenistic Jewish imitators. But the struggle always continues and apparently is an eternal one. Perhaps that is why one of the blessings over the candles of Hanukkah refers to those days but also to our time. And we are witness to this by the events and reactions at this time regarding the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the President of the United States.
The Balfour Declaration, with all of its ambiguity and unfulfilled promise, opened the door for the eventual creation of the Jewish state in the land of Israel. The recognition by the United States of Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel may or may not be followed by other countries doing so. But that is only a short-term and immediate view of the matter.
Just as the Balfour Declaration had a long-term positive effect and revitalized the Jewish people in their attempt to gain independence and stature in the world, so to this declaration of Jerusalem as being the capital of the state of Israel has the potential for long-term positive change of attitude towards the Jewish state in world society.
The Talmud teaches us regarding personal probity and holy intentions that "if you will open your heart to me only as wide as the head of a pin, I will eventually open it as wide as the grand entrance to the Temple.” What we are witnessing is only a pin prick in the anti-Israel movement that has pervaded the American State Department for so many decades.
The previous president broke long-standing American policy by allowing America to facilitate the resolution in the United Nations against Israel. This new president has also broken long-standing American policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. We should appreciate the moment even though the future consequences are still not known.
Shabbat shalom
Happy Chanukah
Berel Wein

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.